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On the back burner for years (so it was reported) this television reunion of two of the most beloved characters in sitcom history started off badly - and went straight downhill from there. TV movies which re-visit once-popular shows just can't seem to recapture the magic which made the original so popular. And,yet, they keep on trying. Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) and her best friend Rhoda Morganstern (Valerie Harper) meet in New York after a long estrangement and catch up on each other's lives. But, sad to relate, nothing worth talking about (let alone making a movie about) has happened to either of them in the intervening years. Instead,the script contents itself with throwing out one hoary old plot device after another (most having to do with older women in the workplace), while completely missing the quirky charm and sophistication that produced a comedy classic. The supporting cast is instantly forgettable, the humor is nonexistent, and the chemistry which Moore and Harper once had together is gone. Moore allegedly stalled this project for years, waiting for "just the right script" before committing herself. (If this was the one she considered "right", what on earth were the ones she turned down like?) It's not the age of the characters that does this in (for time inevitably marches on), but the almost complete lack of imagination coupled with a blatant disregard for the elements that made the series work. At one time this was intended as a pilot but, all to obviously, it failed to generate any interest among potential sponsors. Or for that matter, among potential audiences. And since it wasn't much as a movie, it was even less as a pilot. Quickly and mercifully forgotten, the film is a travesty and an insult to a classic.
The idea of bringing Mary Richards back to TV has been kicking around for
quite some time. There has been talk in the past of reunion specials,
and a whole host of other projects. Last year there was even speculation
that it might come back as a TV series with Mary Tyler Moore reprising her
role and Valerie Harper reprising Rhoda. For whatever reason the idea
didn't fly, but a concession was made for a TV movie titled, Mary and
As the story opens we learn that Mary Richards has recently lost her husband and Rhoda has just gone through a nasty divorce. They have two daughters and haven't spoken to each other since Mary made it clear that she didn't like Rhoda's philandering husband. When they both return to New York they get the idea of looking each other up and rekindling a friendship that has been put on hold for several years.
The first few minutes of the show is catch up time. We learn that Mary went on to work for ABC news (the network that carried this movie) and that Rhoda went on to become an art photographer in Paris (where she lived with her husband).
Mary put her career on hiatus several years back to raise her daughter Rose (played by Joie Lenz) who is now planning on dropping out of school to become a comedian (?) Rhoda, meanwhile, has become her own mother, budding in on her daughters' life (Meridith, played by Marisa Ryan).
Doing reunion shows must be a difficult thing to do, simply because I have yet to see one that is truly satisfying. The producers have two choices when it comes to making one. (A) Spend the whole movie updating the audience on what is going with the characters ... thus making the plot secondary, or (B) Sacrifice the very reason I would tune in and go with a dull plot. The producers of this show seemed to choose a happy medium, or at least I think they did.
We did update on Mary and Rhoda, most of it right at the beginning. I was disappointed that there was no discussion about the other cast members, but I suspect that could be a draw for the TV series that might just follow this movie. The plot was all right; certainly in keeping with Mary Richards. When she first appeared on television she was dealing with being a woman in the news business. Today she is dealing with being an older woman in the news business.
I liked some of the supporting characters in this one. It didn't seem forced, and if there is a series, I believe that an interesting premise has been built by this film. Christine Ebersol is a stand out as Cecile Andrews, the 'Ted Knight-Sue Ann Nivens' like anchor at the TV station Mary works for.
All in all this is an OK film. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is not a fan of the original series, but for fans this is a must see. I know that one of the reasons this project took so long to get off the ground was because Moore was particular about how it was to be handled. Here she does things her way and she certainly proves something. As far as I'm concerned she can still turn the world on with her smile.
I'm sorry, but I'd rather not see a reunion of these two stars if it
can't be done with some humor, like the original MTM show had. Frankly,
these reunion shows NEVER work and "Mary and Rhoda" is no exception. A
lame script and cheesy acting make this a HUGE disappointment. And why
in the world was Mary Richards in New York? She was a Minneapolis gal
and putting her in the big apple just ruined the whole show for me.
It's obvious Mary Tyler Moore wanted to make this movie in New York
because she lives there. BAD idea Mary.
Well ( heavy sigh ) at least they tried.
Do yourself a favor and skip this sad excuse for a Mary Richards update.
Why MTM felt the need to create a pseudo-Lifetime movie, I do not know.
As a fan of the original series, I did not hold much hope upon hearing the concept for this reunion. Unfortunately, I found my worst fears were realized.
The way to go with this reunion, would have been to create a simple 30-minute episode, acting as if the series had never ended, with ALL of the surviving cast. The plot is obvious - have the gang gather for Ted's funeral. Not that we'd want another "Chuckles Bites the Dust," but a chance for the characters to interact in the manner that always seemed to work so well.
My only compliment for this "reunion" is to the costume designer, who seems to perfectly channel the 70s styles that Mary originally showcased, but with a contemporary flair.
In one of the FEW references to the original series, Rhoda humorously comments on Mary's lousy parties.
The whole daughter concept is a bust. LAME.
Granted, we were able to see the infamous "M" on Mary's wall, but what about the pumpkin cookie jar that also only appeared in every season of the original? (Anyone else notice that? Wonder what the significance was?)
Anyway, I'm sorry this movie was even produced. The "histories" of Mary and Rhoda are disappointing. The supporting characters are caricatures. The location filming in New York is distracting.
I love both actresses.......they deserve better than this. (Of course, it was all MTM's idea, sad to say.)
Why did the histories of Mary and Rhoda have to be so dour? Divorced women with indifferent daughters. And why very little reference to the original show and characters? The daughter characters were silly and uninteresting. Why can't there ever be daughters who like their mother's on TV? It makes sense that Mary would leave Minneapolis, and Rhoda would return to NYC, but why couldn't Phyllis or Sue Ann Nivens be guest stars? It just seems a pitiful way to remember such wonderful characters. It was good to see Mary and Rhoda together of course, but it could have been better, much better. Well, there has been a Mary Tyler Moore Show Reunion, a Dick Van Dyke Show Reunion, hopefully Mary will do better next time if she revisits her old Mary Richards stomping grounds again.
I was able to watch this movie in its entirety and was deeply moved by it.
I wasn't sure if it was really a comedy or a drama - it had elements of
both. Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper both looked wonderful - our
of 60-year-old women has certainly changed since Aunt Bee! They are
vibrant, beautiful, sexy! The only drawback in this movie was that there
was absolutely no mention of other characters in either the "MTM" or
shows from the 1970's. I'd have thought that since it was set in New York
City (where "Rhoda" had been set) that at least some mention would have
made of her sister Brenda or that Julie Kavner would have appeared,
of course she was still in the Big Apple.
It is my hope that ABC will make this a series and bring back for guest appearances all the old casts of these shows. By the way, what was wrong with CBS doing this reunion, or an eventual series? Wasn't that the network that carried the "MTM" and "Rhoda" shows?
Alright, I have to admit that I have never seen "Rhoda" and only one or two
episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Even though I don't know anything
about this duo of comedic talent, I still liked this movie a
Mary goes back to work. Rose tries her luck at being a comedian. Rhoda struggles with a photography career. And Meredith...what exactly does she do again? These three stories that we follow over two hours are amusing and entertaining in their own way. When the two long time friends reunite, it only makes the film better.
I was surprised about how good the writing was. The little jokes thrown in by Mary and Rhoda were funny. The script itself was very well put together.
I had seen Moore and Harper in other movies over the past few years and thought that they were very good. But I had no idea that they worked this well as a team. While both actresses do their share to fulfill the title of this movie, they never seem to let me down. (During the run of this movie.) Joie Lenz and Marisa Ryan play their roles okay but nothing great. The rest of the cast like Jonah, Cecile and....everybody else also works well together.
Being that this is a reunion, you would expect for a fan of either show to enjoy this. From a non-fan I still enjoyed this little get-together. Good story lines for each character and the two main characters is what makes this film very good. (The newer version of the MTM theme song doesn't hurt either.)
Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper still can turn the world on with their smiles. The combined talent of these two wonderful stars make this combination reunion/newstart movie work. Watch it and look forward to hitting sixty! Mary defies the youth oriented society with wit and charm. A touch of drama adds 2000 realism. A TV series follow up would broaden the new characters and give us a chance to occaisionally see Lou Grant, Phyllis, Sue Ann, Murray, and Georgette!
So Mary and Rhoda have aged--who hasn't? I was a teen when Mary premiered, and a "young adult" when it left the air. Yes, it was great to see Mary and Rho together, and yes, maybe the film didn't sustain the comedy of the original series, but there were enough moments that recalled the spirit of the series to make this a fitting tribute. Example: the producer who hires Mary and then dictates the idea for a new series about "old people." Isn't this typical of the mentality of present-day Hollywood TV and film "bean counters?" This may not be THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW at its best--but it's a pretty damned good look back at one of the best shows we grew up with in the 70s.
An utter, utter disappointment -- clearly, no-one involved with this
production had any idea about what made the original MTM series work.
After a moderately amusing update of the MTM show theme by Joan Jett,
the film goes immediately downhill, with one witless, dull scene
following another. Stars Moore and Harper try hard, but are completely
at sea when faced with pedestrian direction, a bland, unmemorable
supporting cast, and -- worst of all -- a truly awful script by one
Katie Ford. Sadly, Ford seems to think she's writing the reunion movie
"Lucy and Ethel", and apparently has been told to 'make it clichéd and
dramatic ... but not too dramatic'.
Tellingly, not a single person from the original 70s classic series (aside from the two lead actresses) had any involvement with this reunion. James L. Brooks and Allan Burns don't even get credited for creating the original characters! Of course, looking at the finished product, it's entirely possible they petitioned to have their names removed from this film. If so, they made the right decision.
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